The Reality Bug: Metaphysics for kids

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsThe Reality Bug by D.J. MacHale YA science fiction audiobook reviewsThe Reality Bug by D.J. MacHale

The Reality Bug is the fourth novel in D.J. MacHale’s 10-book PENDRAGON series for teens. In each novel, young Bobby Pendragon, a Traveler, visits a different “territory” (world) where he tries to prevent Saint Dane, the evil villain, from causing enough chaos to completely destroy the multiverse.

This time Bobby is summoned to the territory of Veelox, which seems peaceful at first. Then he learns that Veelox is quiet because 90% of its population is plugged into a computer simulation that allows them to control and play out all their fantasies. (Don’t worry. This is a book for kids, so these fantasies are all totally, if unrealistically, G-rated.) While people are in the virtual reality, their bodies are monitored and fed as needed. With most of the population of the planet being entertained 24 hours per day (or however long Veelox days are, I actually don’t know), the work needed to maintain their advanced civilization isn’t getting done. There is nobody to plant, harvest, and deliver food, or to maintain the infrastructure, for example. (I’m not sure how Veeloxians pay for their upkeep and entertainment since they’re not working, but whatever.) The problem is so bad that Veelox has come to one of those “tipping points” that Saint Dane hopes to use to drive it into chaos. It’s up to Bobby and the Traveler he meets on Veelox to fix the problem. When they create a “Reality Bug” which they hope will give the simulation enough authenticity to induce people to leave it, things go very wrong.

Meanwhile, back on Second Earth (that’s our Earth), Mark and Courtney have started high school. Courtney, who was a popular athlete in middle school, is not skilled enough to compete with the high school girls. She is losing her identity. On the other hand, Mark, who has always been an unpopular geek, has finally found a group of like-minded kids that may perceive acquaintance with him as an asset. Both continue to read the journals Bobby sends home and to worry about what might happen if Saint Dane comes to Second Earth. They wonder how they might be able to contribute to the war effort.

As with the previous PENDRAGON books, The Reality Bug is a fun fast-paced adventure that will appeal to the target audience. There’s plenty of action, even if a lot of it is “virtual.” This story explores a popular science fiction theme — metaphysics — and I think it’s delightful to realize that this may be the first time that many young readers have been asked to think about the nature of reality.

All of the PENDRAGON books so far have offered some subtle teaching moments and warnings for teens, but The Reality Bug is not subtle. It’s clear that D.J. MacHale is saying, “Don’t waste your life playing computer games, or you’ll become a useless member of society and what would happen to our civilization if we all decided we’d rather go live in a fantasy world?” Personally, I like this message since I have two teenage boys who are, or used to be, addicted to MMORPGs. This is something my family struggles with, so I appreciate the sentiment. This warning is much more transparent than in previous books, but that may be appropriate for MacHale’s audience.

It’s nice to see a little more character development from Bobby and his friends. Bobby is getting homesick and he’s wishing he was back at high school in New Jersey, while his friends are wishing they were off having adventures. In this story Bobby finds out that his role as a Traveler is even more important than he originally thought. The ending has a surprising twist.

William Dufris, as usual, does a great job narrating the audiobook. It’s 11 hours long.

Pendragon — (2002-2009) Young adult. Publisher: Bobby Pendragon is a seemingly normal fourteen-year-old boy. He has a family, a home, and even Marley, his beloved dog. But there is something very special about Bobby. He is going to save the world. And not just Earth as we know it. Bobby is slowly starting to realize that life in the cosmos isn’t quite what he thought it was. And before he can object, he is swept off to an alternate dimension known as Denduron, a territory inhabited by strange beings, ruled by a magical tyrant, and plagued by dangerous revolution. If Bobby wants to see his family again, he’s going to have to accept his role as savior, and accept it wholeheartedly. Because, as he is about to discover, Denduron is only the beginning…

book review D.J. MacHale Pendragon 1. The Merchant of Death 2. The Lost City of Faar 3. The Never War 4. The Reality Bug 5. Black Waterbook review D.J. MacHale Pendragon 1. The Merchant of Death 2. The Lost City of Faar 3. The Never War 4. The Reality Bug 5. Black Waterbook review D.J. MacHale Pendragon 1. The Merchant of Death 2. The Lost City of Faar 3. The Never War 4. The Reality Bug 5. Black Waterbook review D.J. MacHale Pendragon 1. The Merchant of Death 2. The Lost City of Faar 3. The Never War 4. The Reality Bug 5. Black Waterbook review D.J. MacHale Pendragon 1. The Merchant of Death 2. The Lost City of Faar 3. The Never War 4. The Reality Bug 5. Black Waterbook review D.J. MacHale Pendragon 6. The Rivers of Zadaa 7. The Quillan Games 8. The Pilgrims of Rayne 9. Raven Risebook review D.J. MacHale Pendragon 6. The Rivers of Zadaa 7. The Quillan Games 8. The Pilgrims of Rayne 9. Raven Risebook review D.J. MacHale Pendragon 6. The Rivers of Zadaa 7. The Quillan Games 8. The Pilgrims of Rayne 9. Raven Risebook review D.J. MacHale Pendragon 6. The Rivers of Zadaa 7. The Quillan Games 8. The Pilgrims of Rayne 9. Raven Rise 10. The Soldiers of Hallabook review D.J. MacHale Pendragon 6. The Rivers of Zadaa 7. The Quillan Games 8. The Pilgrims of Rayne 9. Raven Rise 10. The Soldiers of Halla

Pendragon: Before the War — (2008- ) A Pendragon prequel with Carla Jablonski and Walter Sorrells. Publisher: Before Bobby Pendragon. Before Saint Dane. Before the war… Every territory of Halla has a Traveler. They lived for years — some even for decades — before learning of their true destiny. What was life like for Bobby Pendragon’s fellow Travelers before they joined him in the fight to save every time and place that has ever existed? What led up to their becoming the guardians of Halla? The answers are here! In this first of three thrilling Pendragon prequels, read about Vo Spader’s death-defying adventures in the underwater world of Cloral, Gunny Van Dyke’s race to find a murderer in 1930’s Manhattan on First Earth, and the tough challenges Kasha faced on Eelong well before Bobby Pendragon arrived…

D.J. MacHale Pendragon: Before the War 1. The Travelers 2. 3. D.J. MacHale Pendragon: Before the War 1. The Travelers 2. 3. D.J. MacHale Pendragon: Before the War 1. The Travelers 2. 3.

Related book:

book review D.J. MacHale The Guide to the Territories of HallaThe Guide to the Territories of Halla — (2005) Publisher: All there ever was; all that will be. For the first time, see the amazing sights of Halla as only Bobby Pendragon has. From the watery depths of Cloral to the rugged mountain ranges of Denduron to the jungles of Eelong, from the Earth territories to the decaying fantasy world of Veelox, it¹s all here. So are the Travelers: Uncle Press, Vo Spader, Loor, Aja Killian, Alder, Gunny, and Kasha, and of course, Bobby Pendragon and Saint Dane. This is your private flume to Halla. Enter and discover old friends while you learn new secrets. But remember one thing: This is only the beginning.

 


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KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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